Daniel's Reviews > Sleep for Success: Everything You Must Know about Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask

Sleep for Success by James B. Maas
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it was ok

I received this book after attending a lecture that the author gave. I was already convinced (even before the talk) that sleep is important; it seems obvious given how lousy I feel when I don't get enough of it. As such, I was disappointed by how many words are spent trying to convince readers of this point. There were several places where I was frustrated to see claims made without any references provided to support them:

"The best diet may not be Atkins or Jenny Craig; it's getting one additional hour of sleep every night. If you do that and you're currently overweight, expect to lose an average of one pound per week, all else being constant." (p. 63)

"Fatigued workers cost US employers more than $136 billion per year in lost productivity due to health-related issues. Fatigue and poor health often go together, and this is no coincidence. The study estimated that the prevalence of fatigue in the US workforce is about 38 percent." (p. 149, with no mention of which study is being quoted)

The book does provide some advice for getting the recommended 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but much of it is fairly obvious (don't try to fall asleep while stressed, don't drink alcohol before bed, make your room dark and quiet, etc.). I still found some of the suggestions interesting, though (avoid strenuous exercise, apart from sex, immediately before sleep; avoid looking at electronic displays that emit blue light that our brains associate with daytime -- programs like http://stereopsis.com/flux/ and http://jonls.dk/redshift/ are useful in this regard).

There's also a bit of discussion of the actual mechanics of sleep. I enjoyed reading about the different stages of sleep that our brains pass through throughout the night and the effects of getting woken at different points in the cycle (if you're woken within a few minutes of REM sleep, you'll usually be able to remember the dream you just had; if you're woken during Stage 4, the deepest stage, you'll feel groggy). I would've liked to see more detail here, and for it to be integrated with the advice that the book gives -- I was left with questions like, how deleterious is it to be woken a few times in the middle of the night vs. sleeping continuously? If I wake up an hour before I'd like to and am unable to fall back asleep, is there any value to remaining in bed?

I thought that the book also suffers from its writing style, which leans too far in the motivational direction for my tastes -- there are a lot of sentences like, "so read on, use what makes sense, and have your entire family getting Sleep for Success!". There are other touches presumably meant to add color that I thought distracted from the book's message: frequent stock comic strips that are at best tangentially related to the material around them, and short blurbs reviewing sleep-related products. Why are there positive reviews of cutesy alarm clocks that run and hide after they go off to make it harder for you to hit the snooze button? The advice section of the book says that you shouldn't need to use an alarm to wake up if you're going to bed at the correct time.

I did enjoy hearing the author speak, and his message makes sense -- I just wasn't impressed by this book as a vehicle for it.
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Reading Progress

March 12, 2011 – Started Reading
March 12, 2011 – Shelved
March 19, 2011 – Finished Reading

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